Friday, June 30, 2006

Boiled Noodles With Ground Pork & Bean Sauce ( Jah Jeung Mien )



For The Sauce:

1/3 cup chicken stock
1 Tbs double dark soy sauce, dark soy sauce, or mushroom soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbs Shao-Hsing wine or dry sherry
1 tsp Chinese white rice vinegar or distilled vinegar
2 1/2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
pinch freshly ground white pepper

6 Cups water
6 ounces mung bean sprouts, washed and rained
1/2 lb fresh eggless noodles ( size of # 17 linguine )
1 1/2 tbs peanut oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 lb lean ground pork
1 1/2 tbs hot chili bean paste
1 tsp chili sauce
1/4 cup finely sliced scallion
1 1/2 tbs minced red bell pepper

1. In a small bowl, mix together the sauce ingredients and reserve.

2. To blanch the bean sprouts, place the 6 cups water in a pot, cover, and bring to a boild over high heat. Place the sprouts in a mesh strainer and lower into the boiling water for 10 seconds. Transfer to a bowl or ice water.

3. Return the water to a boil. Add the noodles, stir, and separate with chopstick. Cook until al dente, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat, run cold water into the pot, and drain. Repeat the rinsing and drain thoroughly.

4. Remove the sprouts from the ice water and drain thoroughly.

5. Heat the wok over high heat for 30 seconds. Add the peanut oil and coat the wok with it using a spatula. When a wisp of white smoke appears, add the garlic and stir until lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Add the pork and stir will to loosen. Add the chili bean sauce, chili sauce, and scallion and cook, stirring, until the pork is no longer pink, 1 minute - 1 1/2 minutes. Stir the sauce, pour in, mix well, and cook for 1 minute. Turn off the heat.

6. Arrange the bean sprouts around the edge of a platter. Place the noodles in the center of the platters and pour the pork mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle with the minced red pepper and serve.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

How To Open A Coconut

Tools you'll need:



If you examine your coconut you will see 2-3 dark indentations on one end. These are the weakest points. We will be utilizing these guys to drain the coconut milk before pulverizing this puppy.



Take the hammer and drive the nail through each of the holes. I usually do all of them. Depending on the type of coconut you have this could take a few swings.



Place the coconut over a container and give it some time for the juice to drain. If nothing is coming out you can drive the nail through the other side of the coconut to allow air to enter the top while the liquid drains from the bottom. If your nail bends try using a slimmer one (or even a drill), the hole doesn't need to be big.



Take the drained coconut and place it in the center of a towel that is large enough to be wrapped completely around it.

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Wrap the coconut up in such a way that all of the loose ends are secured underneath of the coconut so that when it breaks open no pieces will go flying.



Time for some fun! Grab your hammer and bash away! I wouldn't recommend doing this on your counter, you will need to hit is rather hard. Do it on the floor, or better yet on brick or concrete. Some coconuts have grooves partially cut along the sides to make opening easier, if you have one of these, instead of wrapping up the coconut you can use the opposite end of the hammer and whack it around the groove until it splits
in two.



Once it's cracked open you can hit it a few more times to try and break up the larger pieces some more. This will make seperating the meat from the shell easier.



Here's your prize, yummy coconut meat. Mmmmmm... Using a small knife, pry the meat away from the shell, be very careful not to cut yourself! Better put on some music,
this could take a while.



The thin layer of shell that will cling to most of the coconut meat shards can be cut or scraped away with a sharp knife. Again, be careful. This will take a while to do so don't try and rush.



Whew, all done! Go ahead and rinse off your pure-white coconut meat and marvel at it's delicious glow. Mmmmmmm.




Your storage options include:

Refrigerator (2-7 days)
Freezer (1-3 months)
Shredded/Grated and dehydrated (6-12 months)

There is another way of cracking a coconut by just using the blunt side of a cleaver.



And here is the story that goes with this movie:

QuickCracking a Coconut version:

1. Hold coconut over a bowl in one hand such that the "midriff" rests in the middle of your palm, with the tip on one end and the eyes on the other.
2. Whack the coconut with the back (that is to say the blunt side) of the cleaver a few times all around the center until it cracks open cleanly into two nearly equal halves. Make sure you use the blunt side of the cleaver.
3. Catch the juice in the bowl as it drains from the cracks.

Some people try to get into a coconut by banging on it with a hammer. Others suggest poking holes in the eyes to drain the liquid before hammering. This sounds like a good idea, but if you have tried it before, you may have discovered it isn't quite so easy. The eyes are small and the surrounding shell quite thick and hard. After much effort to jab them with a sharp object or puncture them with a nail, you may end up with a slow trickle, taking a lot longer to drain all the liquid out than you may have patience for.

A Cracking a Coconutquick and easy, no-nonsense way to crack a coconut is to use a cleaver. Holding it with one hand such that the "midriff" rests in the middle of your palm, with the tip on one end and the eyes on the other, whack the coconut with the back of the cleaver a few times all around the center until it cracks open cleanly into two nearly equal halves. Make sure you use the blunt side of the cleaver. Do this over a bowl in the sink to catch the juice as it drains from the cracks. If the juice tastes fresh and sweet, enjoy it as a refreshment by itself or reserve for use in extracting cream from the flesh.

Preparing a Coconut for Pressing Milk

Coconut If you wish to make coconut milk from scratch and would rather use a food processor or blender than a hand-held implement to shred the thick flesh,when cracking the shell, whack the shell when you first crack it just enough to make a small fissure sufficient for draining the liquid, but keep the coconut whole. (The taste and smell of the juice will tell whether the coconut is good or whether it has gone rancid.) Place the coconut in a hot oven (400-450 degrees) for fifteen to twenty minutes. The heat from the oven loosens the flesh inside from the shell. Do not leave the coconut in the oven too long because you do not want to cook the flesh; cooked coconut meat will not yield fresh-tasting coconut milk. Cracking the shell and draining the liquid before placing in the hot oven prevent the heated coconut from exploding, an experience you want to avoid in your kitchen.

After the coconut has been in the hot oven long enough, remove it and allow it to cool until you are able to handle it without burning your hands. Then whack the coconut all around the center line with the back of a cleaver, as described earlier, to crack into two halves. Using a knife or screw driver, pry the meat out from the shell. If it is hard to do, whack the shell into smaller sections.

If you wish, peel off the brown skin attached to the shell side of the white meat. Break the meat into smaller chunks and chop as finely as possible in your blender or food processor. Transfer the chopped meat to a bowl and add two cups of boiling water. Allow it to steep about ten minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer into another bowl. Gather the pulp with your hands and squeeze all the fluid out from it; this fluid will be the creamiest part of the milk. You may wish to wrap the pulp with a dampened muslin cloth to ease the task of pressing.

Add another two cups of boiling water to the pulp, steep, strain and press again. This will be lighter milk. Judging from the consistency from this second pressing, you may decide whether or not to do a third. In Thai cooking, coconut cream from the first pressing is used to make rich coconut desserts. It is also reserved for frying pastes in the making of curries, with the lighter milk added later during cooking to constitute the sauce. The lighter milk is also saved for soup stocks and to stew or pre-cook various meats.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Cajun / Blackened Salmon

Today's special (sale) on my grocery store was fresh wild sockeyed salmon. So I asked the fish monger if he can fillet the fish for me. He said in order to do that then I have to buy the whole salmon, "Fine" I said. So he started working filleting the fish. One of this day I will have to get a fish knife that is sharp enough so I can fillet my own fish. In the mean time, all I want to do to this fresh salmon is making something super easy and simple for our lunch. When I lived in the States, I always like to order cajun or blackened catfish. They are super tasty and surprisingly easy to make.

Off course you can always buy the cajun mix in the grocery store, but isn't that more fun to make it on your own? Plus this way you can even add more cayenne pepper to give it an extra kick to your fish.

Don't believe me that it is very easy? Go ahead...read on...



Blackened Red Snapper / Salmon Fillets

Serves 6


2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 four-ounce red-snapper fillets, with skin,with skin ( or salmon )

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 Lemon for spritzing the fish ( optional )

1. In a small bowl, combine paprika, oregano, thyme, cayenne, sugar, salt, and black pepper. Set spice mixture aside.

2. Place fillets on a clean, dry work surface, skin side up, and cut three to four shallow slits across skin to keep it from curling up while cooking. Turn fillets over, and sprinkle the top of each fillet with a heaping teaspoon of the reserved spice mixture; pat gently with hands to make spice mixture stick. Cover, and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a heavy skillet. When hot, but not smoking, add half the fillets, seasoned side down. Cook until well browned, about 2 minutes. Flip; cook until fish is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more. Carefully wipe skillet with a paper towel. Repeat with remaining oil and fillets; serve.


This recipe is from Martha Stewart website, when I make it, I don't even have to put it in the refrigerator. The seasoning stick to the fish just fine. There is another way to make the seasoning, you can add 2 Tbs of all-purpose flour so that the whole fish will be covered by the seasoning then you can pan-fried it and get a crispier fish. I like it this way better. Oh yeah... you can substitute the flour with 2 Tbs of yellow cornmeal to get even more crispy fish.

You can double the blackend mix then store them in a tight lid container for next time. You can use this mix with shrimps, other type of fish too. This mix is pretty versatile to use.

Before I forget, since I don't use snapper, with a whole length of salmon, I can't flip them to fry the other side without risking of breaking the fish apart ( taste the same but it will be uglier ), so what I did was, I pan-fried the skin side first, then I sprits some oil ( I use oil mister ) to the meat side and just put the fish and the fish pan ( instead of round, it has an oval shape ) in the oven to broil for just few minutes. The length of time you have to put the fish in the oven depend on the thickness of the fish . My fish is about 3 cm thick, so I just put it under the broiler for 3 minutes. This is because I already have the fish at room temperature when I start to cook it. Don't forget as well to make sure that your pan/skillet can be use for oven. Not all of them are.

For side dish, the same grocery where I get the fish also has a special on sugar snap peas so I use that for the side dish. I cook them briefly on my wok then when I want to serve the fish, I just put them in the same pan. So we can all dig in ...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Japanese BBQ From Scratch

After eating a great meat at Umai Sushikanyesterday, today I want to cook a Japanese food from scratch. Since Kobe Beef is way too expensive , I guess I have to settle with buying beef tenderloin. I don't know why but buying beef tenderloin in Yaohan ( Asian grocery store that I frequented ) cost a lot less than if I buy from Save-on foods for example.


Anyway, from Practical Japanese Cooking by Shizuo Tsuji, and I am drawn to his recipe for Gyuniku ami-yaki which translate to Grilled Beef.

I wish when I cook this food I have a table grill, actually the word ami-yaki - literally means "net grilling" - in which meat, fish, or vegetables are grilled on a wire net over a high flame or red-hot coals. In the case of meat, the key point is to sear only the ouside surface, leaving a touch of red inside. Here high-quality, well-marbled cuts have been used, but for a lighter taste, use fillet or leaner cuts of sirloin, or try using this method for chicken, pork (grill well, of course), or duck. Though the beef is served with 2 complementary dressings - a rich sesame sauce and the light, refreshing lemon-soy dipping sauce - it is also wonderful with a good mustard or lemon juice and salt.

If you don't want to bother with making the sauce you can buy them in bottle from the store, they look like this:



But I really strongly suggest that you try to make it from scratch because I have taste both sauce, from the bottle and also the one from this recipe, and I think the one made from scratch has more superior taste than the commercial one. Plus, I don't think they are that hard to make....

Here is the recipe:

GRILLED BEEF ( GYUNIKU AMI-YAKI )

Serve 4

1 lb well-marbled sirloin or tenderloin beef
8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, washed and stems removed, or 8 fresh brown mushrooms, washed and trimmed
2 white long onions or 1/2 medium onion
8 small sweet green peppers or 2 bell peppers

LEMON-SOY DIPPING SAUCE ( PONZU )

7 tbs lemon juice
7 tbs dark soy sauce
5 tbs rice vinegar
5 tsp mirin
1 Tbs Tamari soy sauce
1/4 cup loose bonito flakes (1/6 oz/5 g)
1-inch (2 1.2-cm) length kelp ( konbu )

SESAME DIPPING SAUCE

2 tbs white sesame paste
1 tbs sugar
4 tbs dark soy sauce
1 tbs mirin, alcohol burned off
2 tbs sake, alcohol burned off
3 tbs bonito stock ( dashi )

TO PREPARE:

Make the Lemon-Soy Dipping sauce: Mix together all the ingredients and referate for 24 hrs to allow flavor to fully mature. Strain to clarify.

Combine all the Sesame Dipping Sauce ingredients in a blender and whir to a smooth paste ( or grind sesame paste in a mortar and pestle, then add the remaining ingredients in order and one by one, grinding as you go )

TIPS # 1: if you toast then grind the sesame seeds instead of buying it in a bottle, the sauce will have nuttier flavor. Plus it's cheaper.


Pic: Toasting the sesame seeds to bring out the flavor.


Pic: Grind the sesame seeds into paste using Japanese style mortar.


Pic: Add the rest of the ingredients for the Sesame Dipping Sauce one by one and mix it well.

TO MAKE:

Slice the beef into 1/4 x 3/4 x 2-inch (1/2 x 2 x 5-cm) strips. Score the mushroom caps with a shallow diamond pattern. Score the long onions and then cut into 1-inch (3-cm) lengths ( or cut the onion into 1/2 inch (1 cm) slices and secure the rings with a toothpick or bamboo skewer). Remove the stems from the sweet green peppers ( or core, seed, and cut the bell peppers into strips).



Grill the vegetables and meat over hot coals (or on a wire net over a hot gas flame ). Grill the meat as desired; grill the vegetables until the surface of each is just tender ( the onion should be slightly translucent). Serve a bowl of each sauce to each diner. Eat the food hot from the grill.





TIPS # 2: If you don't have tamari soy sauce, make a simple, flavored soy sauce instead of the Lemon-Soy Dipping Sauce. Combine 7 tbs dark soy sauce, 1/3 cup sake with alcohol burned off, 7 Tbs lemon juice, 1-inch length kelp, and 1/4 cup loose bonito flakes. Refrigerate for 24 hrs. Strain to clarify.

TIPS # 3 : To burn off alcohol, heat the sake or mirin in a saucepan, ignite, and wait until the flame burns itself out.


NOTE: Tamari (たまり) - Produced mainly in the Chūbu region of Japan, tamari is produced mainly from soybean, with only a small amount of wheat. Consequently, it is much darker in appearance and richer in flavor than koikuchi. It is the "original" Japanese soy sauce, as its recipe is closest to the soy sauce originally introduced to Japan from China. Technically, this variety is known as miso-damari (味噌溜り), as this is the liquid that runs off miso as it matures.

For accompanying this Grilled Meats, I made this wonderful shrimp and avocado on a bed of lettuce salad. To ease the guilt from eating too much red meat maybe?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Always Looking For New Inspiration On What To Cook

Yes, I think it is important to always on the look out for new inspiration on what to cook. Lately, everytime we went out to eat, I choose for brand new restaurants. In Vancouver where there are already thousands of restaurants and yet more and more are open still. For example there is this new Korean restaurant open at Lansdowne Mall. I went to try their food when they are only open for 3 days. The food is pretty good, the decor is so far the best for Korean restaurants in Vancouver, but the service is still not there yet. Maybe because they are still so new so the waitresses are not familiar enough with their job yet. Some of the food also not available yet at that time, I am not sure about it now, maybe they do already. Price wise, slightly more expensive than other Korean Restaurants.














Lansdowne Centre
5300 No.3 Road
Richmond BC V6X 2X9
Tel: 604-270-1344






The rice cake soup






The Beef ribs BBQ ( Bul Kal Bi )







The side dishes, I think they have the best tasting Kim Chi.





Then yesterday, we went to try this award winning sushi chefs from Japan restaurant at Aberdeen Centre. The restaurant name is Umai Sushikan, located inside the mall at Unit 2790.
I read about the chefs from newspaper mentioning that he won several awards back in Japan. In Vancouver, we probably has the cheapest salmon since we are located in the region where salmon is so plentiful. We have tons of Japanese restaurant in here but most of them are not even own by Japanese. Mostly by Chinese or Koreans. So I think the taste is not authentic enough. Sure all of the restaurant always serve the same type of sushi or sashimi, so if you just looking for the USUAL stuff, you can always get pretty decent Japanese food from any restaurant here, but I am looking for something that is unusual, the more authentic one. That's why I went to eat in this restaurant.

By a glance at the menu, you can already see that there are many items that you won't find in other Japanese restaurants. This restaurant serve more KOBE beef. If you never heard about KOBE beef, it is the absolute best. I heard a lot about how Japanese manage to make such masterpiece, I heard they feed the cows with milk, and they even massage the cow! I also heard that now, Kobe is not the only town that can produce this kind of excellency, other town can do it too. But the KOBE name is already become the standard.

Because we kind of in a hurry to go home ( It's already pass La La bedtime! ), so we order the June Special, $85 for 2, we get 4 slices of salmon sashimi, their 4 giant , jeez... I don't remember the name, rice sushi, very colorfull and taste really good. Don't let the picture fool you, each of this sushi is as big as the small plate that they always give you in sushi restaurant. My son can only eat one and he is already full! Then Kobe salad with orange dressing. Then Lobster and vegetable tempura with a very unique ( at least to me ) green tea salt on the side for people who likes their tempura more salty. Udon ( very tasty ). Chef's choice sushi, very very good, fresh and unique. I like the ide of placing a lemon jelly on top of the scallop. Even their green tea is better than other restaurant. Other restaurant usually serve green tea that doesn't even taste like green tea anymore. This restaurant serve a real green tea both in color and taste.















Aberdeen Centre

4151 Hazelbridge Way
Richmond, BC



























This sushi is not only taste really good but they look so beautiful! Like a jewelry box.






Look at the top left corner, you see the green tea salt that I mention earlier. Then on the bottom right corner, you can see the fan shape tempura, it was made with noodle! I think it's pretty, KK sure loves their crunch!









Kobe Salad with Orange dressing.








It's been a long time since I eat sushi this fresh. The Tuna is absolutely melting in your mouth with so much marble ( fat ). Then you see the lemon jelly on top of the scallops. All of them are pure endulgence.




















This picture is taken from their own website, it's their $12 lunch bento box I guess.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

2 Days - Feast



I have been subscribing Martha Stewart Living magazine for well over 5 years I think and if you also subscribe or buy it once in a while, you know that inside the magazine there is special section for simple dinner menu that you can cook within an hour. They always looks so perfect, delicious, and healthy. For some reason I have never try the recipes well until yesterday. And it's because it brought a certain happy memory.



When I still went to University, I had a friend from Jakarta. One day he asked me if I want to accompany him to go to Dallas to see his cousin. In Dallas, his cousin whose family business is in chain Japanese restaurants in Jakarta and grocery stores too treat us for lunch at a tiny shack. The restaurant wall was build with bare woods with no paint and everything looked genuinely rustic. First he told us to sit first. The bench and the table looked so old and so rustic, basically they are just old wood planks nail together. Then the cousin order this and that for us. Soon, the waiter bring a huge plate of crawfish and other seafood to our table then he dump them on our table that has been covered with newspapers and we just start to dig in. This is a new experience for me because at that time I just arrived in the US for less than a year. I have never seen a crawfish before, it looks like a cross between a shrimp and a lobster or something. The meat part is so small compare to the head, but the meat is very sweet. Then the way they cook it is so different too, I think they just boil everything! I have never find this type of cooking anywhere else.





On the way home from Dallas I had an allergy reaction to what I eat, so I ended up with my body full of rashes that itch like crazy! For some reason I blocked this from my memory and only the good part still left in my brain!

So when I saw this recipe I was so happy that I finally I can make it on my own. So in the morning, I went to my usual Asian grocery store , Yaohan, to buy everything fresh. Since I don't want to have another food allergy, I insist to buy everything super fresh. If they are not swimming and breathing when I pick them, I won't buy them.

First I choose the shrimps. Then I pick the clams. Then it took me a long time to pick the blue crabs because they are so feisty!

To make this dish you need to have Old Bay Seasoning.



The recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine is for shrimp boil but actually you can put almost anything in the boiling liquid, like Kielbasa sausages, lobster, clams, crabs, corn, potatoes ( white or red ). On Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, she describe that the way you layering the ingredients is important so that they can be done at the same time. The recipe's name is Kitchen Clambake.


So how does it taste? Is it close to the crawfish that I ate in Dallas? The answer is... Not even close! It was pretty bad that I throw the left over straight to the trash can! I can't even say why it taste awful. That's why I did not even bother to write the recipe here.


The next day I tried different recipe. I look up at my Practical Japanese Cooking by Shizuo Tsuji for a Sukiyaki recipe.







Again, I specifically look for Sukiyaki because I have a fond memory on eating it for the first time with my parents when we traveled to Rockies Mountains together. As a gift from my parents to me for my graduation from University, they got us a deluxe tour package to Rockies Mountain. I think it cost about $ 7500 a person for 10 days trip that doesn't even include any airplane tickets! What we got though is 5 stars hotels every day, for example, if you go to Banff, you will see that there is only one hotel that get the best view and that is the Banff Spring Hotel. One night may cost around $ 500 at that time. And on this tour package everyday we get a $ 45 allowance per person for our dinner which means we can go to eat in any of the hotel's restaurants and spend 45 dollars. If we spend more than that then we need to pay the extra ourselves. Our first night there, I tried to make a reservation for our dinner with the service desk . Originally my first choice was a German Restaurant but when they told me that because the hotel is so large, it takes 15 minutes for me to walk there and most likely I will get lost on the way so there is a big possibility that it would take more than 30 minutes for me to get there! This hotel has more than 15 Restaurants in it. So at the end we chose the Japanese restaurant called Samurai Sushi Bar and Restaurant. Since I never ate Sukiyaki before I guess this is the best time to try it. I was so surprise that it really taste so good! Since then I have been ordering Sukiyaki in many many many Japanese restaurant but none of them ever come close to my first Sukiyaki. I love it so much that on another chance when I went back to that hotel again for a visit with my husband and his friends, I want to eat in that restaurant again but I could not find it! This hotel is so monstrously too big. We ended up eating a great Canadian food.

So anyway, this recipe is a pretty good immitation to my first Sukiyaki in Banff, just remember that the quality of the meat really play an important part on to make this recipe from good to great.



SUKIYAKI

Serve 4

2 lbs well-marbled sirloin beef
1 cake konnyaku, about 1/2 lb
1/2 block regular tofu, about 5 oz ( 150gr )
12 scallions
4 oz (120gr) watercress
8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, washed and stems removed or 8 fresh brown mushrooms, washed and trimmed
2 oz (60gr) beef suet -- I use oil instead of beef suet
4 eggs

SAUCE

1 cup dark soy sauce -- I use regular
1 cup mirin
1/2 cup water
7 Tbs sugar
1/4 cup sake

Slice the beef thinly as possible or have your butcher cut it for Sukiyaki.

Combine all the SAUCE ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat. Cool.

If you use the konnyaku, cut the konnyaku into 1/2 x 1/2 x 5-cm strips. Rub with salt, boil for 5 minutes, and drain well. I use konnyaku noodles instead so that I don't have to cut them anymore.

Prep everything like I do in the pictures.

Heat a cast iron skillet to high heat and melt the beef suet, or like me, I use oil. Then add some of the beef to the pot and saute it. When the beef is almost cooked through, pour in the suace to the 1 cm level and add some of the konnyaku, tofu, and vegetalbes. Let teh food simmer, adjujsting heat if necessary.

Break the raw eggs into individual serving bowls and beat lightly.

When the food is cooked through, each diner selects his or her own pieces from the skillet. Dip into the egg.

Replace the ingredients and sauce as they are depleted.



Finally I have a very satisfactory dinner after yesterday disaster dinner ...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

More Links for Pregnancy and Confinement Recipes

Well..well..well... never thought that my postings on pregnancy and confinement recipes get the most responds.

So I thought I would like to add more information for you who needs these types of recipes.

Just for you know that the book that I show here is just one from many out there so don't limit yourself on buying the exact one with mine.

For more free pregnancy and confinement recipes you can go to:

Singapore's pregnancy recipes website
Singapore Confinement Recipes Website
Moms In Mind
Parenting Joy
Natal Essentials
Pregnancy Recovery
Southern Angel's


If I happen to find more usefull links, I am going to keep adding them in this post.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Feeding Toddlers

Many times when I am around other parents I hear this complain a lot that their children do not eat enough vegetables or fruits, or they eat too much junk food snacks like potato chips, coke.

I don't claim that my son's eating habit is perfect. I allow him to eat candies and chocolates at home as long as he brush his teeth after that. But I do not have problem with him eating vegetables and fruits.

In my opinion, parents who have problem with their children is because they introduce those junk food too soon before the good eating habit is well establish yet, and because at home, they have too many bad choices to choose.


Pic: While playing he went and grab the asparagus from the dining table and put it in his mouth! He is 2 yrs old in this photo.

The choices on the dining table should be between carrot, mango, or broccoli. Yes, it seems that I gave my son choices to choose when in fact, I don't!

What do you think he will choose if the choices are between carrot, potato chips, and pizza? And the drink of choices is pops or sugary juice? Instead at home, I insist he drinks milk. He only drink juice on his lunch break at school because I gave him the juice box.

For his fruits daily requirement, I would rather he eats the fruit with all their complete vitamins still there and their healthy fiber than if he drinks it in straw!

It's all about choices we gave them....

Beside giving him false choices to choose, I also telling him all about the health benefit he can get by eating those food that I prepare for him. For example, if he eat carrot , he will have healthy eye sight. When he eat broccoli, he couldn't get cancer which is very very bad. When he choose fish, he will be smarter. When he choose spinach, he will have enough blood which is like the transportation for all the nutrients to reach every part of his body. So while he is eating healthy, he also feels good about himself because he knows that he is doing something good to his body.

I really do not like it when my mom came and she likes to pile up all those unhealthy snacks on my dining table. It's so easy for a child to be bad and it's so hard to train them to be good. It's also an annoying thing that I have to be the bad guy. It's just not fair for me who has been trying so hard since Kai Kai was old enough to eat to make him loves healthy food. Luckily my father help a little so now when my mom is here, there are less unhealthy snacks on my table. Just a few ....

A dining table should be clean of any snacks. The only thing allow to be there should be the well-prepared healthy food only. You can have bad snacks at home, just be sure to put them behind the locks!

In my experience, after school is the best time to make him eat healthy food because he is always at the hungriest around 4 to 5 o'clock. Too early for dinner, yet way too late for lunch. For breakfast, I choose cereal, oatmeal, yogurt ( remember my new best friend, the yogurt maker? ), eggs, pancakes and waffle ( when I have time ). And usually my son doesn't feel too hungry around lunch time. So he usually a little bit more picky. But after school, he usually comes home famish because when the school end, he always play hard with his classmates at the school playground until he sweat a lot and he always comes home looking for food on the dining table.

So I make sure that before I left to pick him up from school, there will be some sort of healthy snacks ready for him to eat. If not, always offer him cereal first. When he is this hungry, he really doesn't care on what he eats, he just shove everything into his mouth so even though maybe at lunch or dinner he didn't get enough vegetables or fruits in his body, this is the time to balance things out! So I make sure that I won't miss this opportunity.

The easiest is to precut all the fruits and just lay them on the plate at dining table.

Then you can make all sort of sandwich off course. Peanut butter is not a bad thing. The jam maybe because of all the sugar content in it.

In my fridge, there is always a big bottle of milk that my son can grab himself when ever he is thirsty, and I make sure that it always full.

Another way is making vegetables dip. Clean, and cut the vegetables into smaller and easy to hold pieces. Then you make the dip.

His favorite dip is this blue cheese Dip and they are pretty easy to make and the taste is way more superior than if you opt to buy from the store. But again, the point is making them eat more vegetables so if you think making the dip is too troublesome then by all means go buy it!



BLUE CHEESE DIP

1 1/2 cups crumbled gorgonzola or other blue cheese ( I like milder taste, smelling it can give you a hint on how strong the flavor is going to be )
1 cup good mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream ( you can use yogurt )
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground black pepper

Place the blue cheese, mayo, sour cream, Worcestershire, salt and pepper in the bowl of food processor fitted with a steel blade and process it until smooth.


From my experience, kids loves sweeter vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, and red bell paper. But they can like others too like broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, celery, beets , mushrooms, and Belgium Endive as well. Just let them try it first.

To make Kai Kai likes to try new thing, I like to take him to the grocery store and let him choose what he likes to eat. 8 out of 10, he always pick vegetables and fruits instead of new snack or candies. Every time I went to my Asian grocery store, he always ran and grab a lotus root.

Beside fresh vegetable with the blue cheese dip, I am going to give you other kids friendly recipes.

WHITE BEAN AND BACON DIP WITH ROSEMARY PITA CHIPS

The homemade rosemary-flecked chips are a great complement to the garlicky dip, but store-bought pitas or bagel chips are a fine stand-in.

Chips:
1/2 tsp dried crushed rosemary
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
3 (6-inch) pitas, each cut into 8 wedges
Cooking spray or you can use a brush and oil.

Dip:
2 bacon slices, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 ( 19-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp paprika

Preheat oven to 350F.

To prepare Chips, combine first 4 ingredients. Arrange pita wedgesin a single layer on a baking sheet. Lighty coat pita wedges with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with rosemary mixture. Lightly recoat pita wedges with cooking spray. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until golden.

To prepare dip, cook bacon in a small saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon; set aside. Add garlic to drippings in pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add broth and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.

Combine bean mixture, onions, and remaining ingredients in a food processor, and process until smooth. Spoon mixture into a bowl; stir in 1 Tbs reserved bacon. Sprinkle Dip with remaining bacon just before serving. Serve with pita chips.


There are tons of recipe out there that can teach you on how to make dips. Children loves dips, you can even cut the vegetables with cookie cutter into cute shapes, like flower shape carrot for example.

Another great idea is making a smoothie for them.

Another one again is serving them with different cheeses.

Boil or steam Soy beans for no more than 5 minutes. They should not be mushy. Then sprinkle them with salt. For extra flavoring you can boil star anise first for 10 minutes or so to infuse the liquid then you cook the soy beans with that liquid. Children usually loves to peel the skin of the soy beans.

Another thing as well, is when I make let's say chicken soup. I really add a lot of vegetables in my soup, because for every bite that Kai Kai put in his mouth. I want it to be full with nutrients. I think rice is just a filler, something to make you full without much nutrient to offer. This way works very well if you have 2 children with different age, the older one can eat the soup like we do, and for the smaller one, you can puree the soup until smooth. That's why adding lots of vegetables in the soup can help to get the right consistency for a puree soup.

This is a good recipe for soup for children that you can puree as well:

RICE AND VEGETABLE SOUP

1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 trimmed celery stick, chopped finely
1 medium carrot, chopped coarsely
1 L stock ( chicken or vegetable stock is fine )
2 (400gr) cans tomatoes
420g can four-bean mix, rinsed and drained ( any white beans should do as well )
1/2 cup (100gr) long-grain white rice
1/2 tsp sugar
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in large pan; cook onion, celery and carrot, stirring, until onion is soft. Add stock, undrained crushed tomatoes, beans, rice and sugar. Bring to boil; simmer; uncovered, about 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Serve soup sprinkled with basil and cheese.

This recipe is great for freezing as well.

For baby: Puree to the desired consistency.


Pasta is also a great help for mom. Since pasta comes in so many colors and so many shapes it's so easy to feed them to children.


Mixing tofu with ground meat, salt, pepper, egg white, garlic and onion then boil them and serve it with chopped vegetables is also great. Look at Kai Kai when he was almost 2 yrs old eating this tofu balls by himself.

Take your kids next time you go grocery shopping, take them to the fruits and vegetables section and asked them what they like to eat.

At home, asked them if they like to help you prepare the meal. The more involve they are in making their own meal, the bigger the chances they will eat their creation.

Let them play with their food a little. Children learn through play. Eating is part of that too.

When they said they are full. Respect that! They need to learn how hungry and full is like. So they know when to eat and when to stop.

Don't force feed the children just because they might not be hungry yet. Don't worry, trust your kids, I have never heard children literarily kill themselves through starvation. Their survival instinct is bigger than that.

Food should be fun. Not punishment. Candies or dessert shouldn't be a reward too.

Heck... If Kai Kai said for breakfast he wants chocolate chips cookies, I let him have it once in a while. I found that the more I trust him, the more he made a better judgment himself base on his knowledge of eating healthy food that will make him grow stronger. The next day, he asked for his oatmeal back again.


Pic: He grab the Belgium Endive salad from the dining table that I made for myself since I thought he won't like the bitter taste of it. He surprise me again with his broad taste. He likes the bitterness of it.

Cooking With The Most Expensive Spice In The World - Saffron!



The most precious and most expensive spice in the world: Saffron.
The Saffron filaments, or threads, are actually the dried stigmas of the saffron flower, "Crocus Sativus Linneaus". Each flower contains only three stigmas. These threads must be picked from each flower by hand, and more than 75,000 of these flowers are needed to produce just one pound of Saffron filaments, making it the world?s most precious spice.
But, because of saffron's strong coloring power and intense flavor, it can be used sparingly. Saffron is used both for its bright orange-yellow color and for its strong, intense flavor and aroma.

Crocus Sativus Linneaus contains crocin, the source of its strong coloring property, bitter-crocin, which offers the distinctive aroma and taste and essential oils which are responsible for its therapeutic properties.
Saffron is available both in filaments and powder, though the long, deep red filaments are usually preferable to the powder as the latter can be easily adulterated.
Today, the greatest saffron producing countries are Greece, Spain, Turkey, Iran, India, and Morocco.
The largest saffron importers are Germany, Italy, U.S.A., Switzerland, U.K., and France.


Okay... now...after you read that information about Saffron, you can appreciate it more on why Saffron is so expensive. I bought Saffron from my grocery store, it comes in a bottle and inside the bottle there is an paper envelop containing 1 tsp of saffron threads for the price of CAN $ 13.



Another great place to buy it is from Ebay. I bought my vanilla beans also from Ebay, direct from Tahiti. A lot cheaper than if you buy from your grocery.

Here is the background story on why I want to try cooking with saffron. Here at my home, FoodTV Network is always on my TV as long as Richard is still at work and Kai Kai is at his school. I think in the past 2 years or so I notice that I mention about a Spanish dish called Paella more and more and to cook Paella, you need saffron because saffron is what makes this dish special. The color and the flavour of saffron.

Since saffron is so expensive, I thought I want to eat Paella at a restaurant first so I know approximately what Paella should taste like. I did this couple months ago actually and I think I like Paella even though I still couldn't taste what so special about saffron except it makes the rice looks yellow but that easily can be duplicate by using turmeric. In fact, some recipe calls for turmeric as a replacement of saffron. True, the color is the same, but they said the flavour is different. Because of that I want to use saffron so I can get the whole thing right first.

To make sure that I get it right. I insist on buying everything fresh. I went shopping early in the morning so I can get the live shrimps, live clams, live mussels and the white wine.



Paella

From America's Test Kitchen

This recipe is for making paella in a Dutch oven (the Dutch oven should be 11 to 12 inches in diameter with at least a 6-quart capacity). With minor modifications, it can also be made in a paella pan (see instructions below). Dry-cured Spanish chorizo is the sausage of choice for paella, but fresh chorizo or linguiƧa is an acceptable substitute. Soccarat, a layer of crusty browned rice that forms on the bottom of the pan, is a traditional part of paella. In our version, soccarat does not develop because most of the cooking is done in the oven. We have provided instructions to develop soccarat in step 5; if you prefer, skip this step and go directly from step 4 to 6.

Serves 6
1 pound extra-large shrimp (21/25), peeled and deveined
Table salt and ground black pepper
olive oil
8-9 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs , each thigh trimmed of excess fat and halved crosswise
1 red bell pepper , seeded and cut pole to pole into 1/2-inch-wide strips
8 ounces Spanish chorizo , sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias (see note)
1 medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained, minced, and drained again
2 cups Valencia rice or Arborio ( I also read somewhere that you can substitute it with Japanese sushi rice )
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads , crumbled
1 bay leaf
1 dozen mussels , scrubbed and debearded
1/2 cup frozen green peas , thawed
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 lemon , cut into wedges, for serving


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon garlic in medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper; set aside.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until skin begins to blister and turn spotty black, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer peppers to small plate and set aside.

3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to now-empty Dutch oven; heat oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add chicken pieces in single layer; cook, without moving pieces, until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn pieces and brown on second side, about 3 minutes longer; transfer chicken to medium bowl. Reduce heat to medium and add chorizo to pot; cook, stirring frequently, until deeply browned and fat begins to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to bowl with chicken and set aside.

4. Add enough oil to fat in Dutch oven to equal 2 tablespoons; heat over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes; stir in remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes; cook until mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in rice and cook until grains are well coated with tomato mixture, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, wine, saffron, bay, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return chicken and chorizo to pot, increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until rice absorbs almost all liquid, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from oven (close oven door to retain heat). Uncover pot; scatter shrimp over rice, insert mussels hinged side down into rice (so they stand upright), arrange bell pepper strips in pinwheel pattern, and scatter peas over top. Cover and return to oven; cook until shrimp are opaque and mussels have opened, 10 to 12 minutes.

5. Optional: If soccarat (see note) is desired, set Dutch oven, uncovered, over medium-high heat about 5 minutes, rotating pot 180 degrees after about 2 minutes for even browning.

6. Let paella stand, covered, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that have not opened and bay leaf, if it can be easily removed. Sprinkle with parsley and serve, passing lemon wedges separately.

7. If You're Using a Paella Pan
A paella pan makes for an attractive and impressive presentation. Use one that is 14 to 15 inches in diameter. A 14-inch ovensafe skillet will work as well, but do not attempt to use anything smaller because the contents will simply not fit. Follow the recipe for Paella, increasing the chicken broth to 3 1/4 cups and the wine to 1/2 cup. Before placing the pan in the oven, cover it tightly with foil. For soccarat, cook the paella, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees after about 1 1/2 minutes for even browning.

STEP BY STEP: Deveining Shrimp



1. Hold the shelled shrimp between thumb and forefinger and cut down the length of its back, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep, with a sharp paring knife.



2. If the shrimp has a vein, it will be exposed and can be pulled out easily.




STEP BY STEP: Searching for Soccaret

Soccarat is the toasty, browned portion of rice that forms along the bottom of the pan. It is the hallmark of authentic paella. To create this crusty bottom layer of rice, return the Dutch oven to the stovetop for five minutes once the paella has finished baking.

STEP BY STEP: How Much Time is Enough for Good Paella?


30 MINUTES: This boxed paella, with its own can of seafood, isn't worth the minimal bother.








TWO HOURS: Our recipe works in a pan you already own and relies on a reasonable shopping list.






FOUR HOURS: This ultimate recipe requires a paella pan and includes nine kinds of meat and seafood.






Above: Different sizes of Paella pans.

NOTE:


It's a good idea to get all the ingredients ready before you start cooking because between cooking one ingredient to another, it only takes few minutes so you don't have much time to do anything else beside cooking one ingredient after another.